Hire Happy People and Teach Them the Rest

happy-employeesWhen I first started this blog in 2008, I was  prone to depression. I literally felt like I had those huge ankle weights holding me down. Those days don’t happen very much any more. Over the years of studying work happiness, I’ve learned about life happiness, too.

I still feel sad like everyone else. No one can avoid sadness, but my sadness doesn’t last as long as it used to.

Core Happiness

The more work I’ve put into my core happiness, the more resilient I feel. When I fail, I don’t take it as hard as I used to. I shake it off and try something else. It’s this trait that all happy people seem to possess. They never let things bring them so far down that they just give up.

Just so we are clear, I’m not talking about hiring people who aren’t phased by failure. I’m talking about hiring the resilient people who can get knocked down and find a way to see a positive and build on it.

That’s why I’m writing this piece. You have to learn how to separate the fakers from the real deal happy people.

You may be thinking, Why do I even care if my people are happy?

“People are more productive and creative when they have more positive emotions. In fact, we found that, if happier on a given day, people were not only more likely to come up with a new idea or solve a complex problem that same day but also to do so the next day.”
– Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer, The Progress Principle

Why You Should Hire Happy People

You can’t teach people happiness. They have to want it deep down within their souls. They have to want to be happy so much so that they keep on working at it. This trait is passed on to their co-workers. They never give up and it’s infectious.

Employees either believe they deserve happiness or they don’t. If they aren’t happy when they walk through the door that doesn’t mean they won’t ever be happy. They may be intimidated by their environment. It’s up to you to figure out who is willing to work hard at being happy and pass this feeling on to their co-workers.

Happy people are:

  1. More resilient
  2. Caring
  3. Go the extra mile

You can support your employees happiness. Ask your employees what is making them unhappy and remove it if possible. Ask them what they enjoy about their job and see if you can find a way for them to spend more time doing tasks that fit with their superskills. It’s important to have a dialog with your employees about happiness. The more you listen the more you can help them.

Finding Happy People

The easiest way to see if someone is happy is to find out what they care about. Ask questions that allow them to talk about their passions. You’ll get a gauge of what makes them happy and if your position will meet their happiness needs.

You can also ask a potential hire what they’ve done in the past if they aren’t happy at a job. See if they take you step-by-step through how they turned their job into something positive. If they tell you that they quit without trying then you know you need to keep looking for a better candidate.

Pay Unhappy People to Leave

You don’t always get every hire right, so do what Zappos does. They offer their employees $3,000 to quit after a month. They don’t want people staying with the company just for the money. They want people dedicated to the whole culture and mission of Zappos.

Once you learn how to hire a happy person, you might spend a little more time training them– especially if they don’t have the skills to succeed in their job. But believe me, once you’ve trained them, they will dig in and get it done. They’ll do it with such a good attitude that you’ll wonder why you haven’t used this approach sooner.

Your Turn

What do you think? Can you turn unhappy employees into happy ones? Let’s have a dialog in the comments below.


  1. I fully believe that the attitude of an employee makes all the difference in the workplace and for the company. I’ve felt the difference between a cohesive team and self-centered workers. The company culture is the over-riding influence and so in my workplace I try to be positive, work hard and willingly support my co-workers because the company I work for has a very negative, disrespectful attitude toward a large portion of their employees.

    • Karl Staib - The Work Happy Guy says:

      Hi Norma, It’s so nice to hear that you support your co-workers, especially since they aren’t getting the support from the company.

      You bring up a good point. How far do you take your positive attitude in a toxic work environment? If you are the only happy person out of 100 it’s going to be a tough emotional hill to climb every day.

  2. This is actually very true. I used to work with someone who was a very unhappy person. Boy we had a lot of issues: coming in late, leaving early, not focusing. He just simply did not want to be around. Our office became much happier when that person left. One person can make a difference.

    • Karl Staib - The Work Happy Guy says:

      Hi YB, One person can make a huge difference especially when you replace them with a happy and motivated co-worker.

  3. Anthony Vaglica says:

    Hello Karl,

    My name is Anthony Vaglica and I work for Toyota here in Houston, TX. We came across your website, Work Happy Now, and wanted to make a connection with you. We love this post about hiring happy people and feel that we share viewpoints on important topics that affect our region.

    Toyota has two plants, one in San Antonio and one in Mississippi, that employ close to 5,000 local people (10 plants and 30,000+ employees total in the U.S.). The San Antonio plant employs over 2,800 and produces 200,000 Tundras and Tacomas per year. The Mississippi plant employs 2,000 and produces 150,000 Corollas per year.

    We just wanted to introduce ourselves and thank you for all you do to promote job growth in the region.

    We look forward to reading your future posts.


    Anthony Vaglica

    • Karl Staib - The Work Happy Guy says:

      Hi Anthony, I’ve heard and read a lot of good things about Toyota, I would love to hear more. We should chat sometime soon.

      • Anthony Vaglica says:

        That’s great to hear Karl!

        I wanted to reach out again and share some work you might be interested in. Toyota recently created two videos that tell the story about the people who work in our San Antonio and Mississippi plants. We think you will enjoy them, and we encourage you to share them further.


        We are trying to spread the word about all we do in the region. Thanks for your consideration and please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions.


        Anthony Vaglica